Since the release of the first credit card in 1950, credit cards have steadily become all-pervasive. This is largely due to the rise of the internet and e-commerce websites, which today, are almost impossible to live without, especially if you are looking for a great deal and the added convenience of not having to actually visit the store in your pyjamas to make a purchase. With the benefits of paying for your purchases at a later time and enticing rewards and cashback programs, cards have a huge advantage over relatively outdated methods of paying for transactions - like cash.
That being said, this form of payment has its dangers as well. ACI, a firm specialising in providing electronic payment services to thousands of financial institutions across the globe, has uncovered some distressing facts. Almost one in three credit cardholders all over the world have been victims of fraud. So, what are the ways to make sure you do not fall into the trap and get duped? Here is a comprehensive list of what to look out for and avoid when using your credit card.
Important Strategies to Avoid Fraudulent Activities on Your Credit Cards
- Lock your smartphone when it is not in use.
If you think leaving your smartphone unattended for even a minute won’t cost you much, consider how much easy access you are giving others to your personal details and online banking accounts. anyone could easily steal your phone and use your banking information in it to make purchases without your authorisation. To avoid exorbitant charges on your credit card by criminals, keep your phone on you at all times, especially in public.
- Shred credit card statements before disposal.
Many people casually throw away credit card statements and receipts without a second thought. But this might be yet another outlet for a criminal to get your personal details. Considering how many sensitive details each document holds, it is imperative that you shred every one of them so that it would be very difficult for a criminal to piece it back together and retrieve your current bank balance, credit card number, name and address, and other personal details.
- Do not write down your PIN and store it in your wallet, or use familiar dates that are easy to remember – like your birthday.
To make it easy to remember, there are many who scribble their PIN on a piece of paper and store it with their credit card in their wallet. Should your wallet be stolen or get lost, and your account gets maxed out, the only person to be held responsible is you. Additionally, making your PIN easy to remember will cost you if those known to you have financial troubles and decide to try and alleviate their situation by guessing your PIN and misusing your account.
- Check if the card returned to you is actually yours – for events involving alcohol.
There are people out there who would jump at any chance to get their hands on a few thousand extra dollars. When going out for drinks or any other event that involves alcohol and impaired judgement, ensure you are aware of your cards at all times. Make sure that when paying your bill, the card returned to you is actually yours and not some random expired con card instead.
- Lock your home mailbox to ensure your mail is not being sifted through by criminals.
This one is self-explanatory. However, if you require more details, understanding how criminals think could save you from an embarrassing story and sky-high credit card bills. Criminals have no problem going through your mail looking for newly issued credit cards or current credit card statements. In light of this fact, ensure you do not become an easy target by skipping this preventative measure.
- Be wary of any suspicious numbers calling to ask for any credit card or banking information.
There are scammers that attempt to call as many numbers as possible hoping for an easy way to get access to your wallet. They may sound professional and provide some details about you they recovered from your trash to win your confidence, but if the number is unknown to you and not on the company’s website, do not give out any of your personal or banking information, and end the call right away.
- Be aware of fake wi-fi zones that can be used to collect your sensitive information.
Near airports or large establishments especially, wi-fi zones are set up by criminals to rob unsuspecting victims of their banking details or credit card information over unsecured connections. Be sure you click on the legitimate wi-fi zone, or if you’re in doubt, walk up to the information counter or anyone that works there to double check.
- Prevent skimming by being conscious of where your card is at all times.
Skimming is where criminals pretend to be waiters, bartenders, and other help in order to get a chance to swipe your card and copy its information onto a skimmer. They will then swipe it in the real card reader and return it to you. If you lose sight of your card at any time, you stand a chance of falling prey to this malpractice.
- Check your bank account balance regularly.
This should go without saying, but if you are sure to check your account regularly, the chances of you missing fraudulent activity on your account are substantially reduced.
- Ensure online merchants are reputable and check website authenticity prior to purchase.
It is often the case where individuals click on a link and stumble upon a site that apparently sells the product or service you are looking for, promising you a great deal and fabulous discounts. Before you buy from such websites, make sure the site is a legitimate one and not counterfeit by doing a bit of research and reading its reviews prior to purchase.
Another point worth mentioning is clone sites. These sites are sites pretending to be the official ones that usually contain spelling mistakes in the URL, like ‘Goggle’ or ‘Starbukcs’.
- Do not save online banking passwords and details on any browser.
If money and your finances mean anything to you, you would be wise to avoid saving any passwords related to your online banking account on any browser. Though it is easier to log in if those are saved, if anyone were to get a hold of the laptop you were working on, you could lose all your money.
- Prevent email phishing from occurring to you.
Phishing is when a criminal masquerades as a reputable entity to extract valuable private information from you over the web. This can be done by distributing links and attachments in emails containing malicious software or spyware. If you do not recognise a sender and the subject line sounds too good to be true, that’s precisely when you should hit ‘delete’. Just because there are many reasons to be wary of having a credit card in the first place, does not mean you should not be able to enjoy its many perks. It is like saying that having cash on you makes you more susceptible to being targeted for mugging but you also need the cash to buy that piece of chocolate cake. All you need to do is to be careful and take the necessary precautions so that you are safe from unauthorised credit card transactions.